In chapter 4 of his book Imagine: How Creativity Works, Jonah Lehrer describes recent brain research investigating the link between self-control and creativity. It turns out there is a part of our brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DL-PFC) that is responsible for self-control: keeping us from stealing candy from the store, or from blurting out something that we’ll later regret. However, this part of the brain is frequently in the way of artistic creativity. In fact, many successful musicians and performers, especially those doing improv or jazz, have to train themselves to turn this part of their brain off during a performance.
Lehrer also cites two cases of people who developed frontotemporal dimentia, a debilitating (and ultimately fatal) degenerative brain disease that causes breakdown of the DL-PFC. The interesting thing was that in both cases, as their inhibitions vanished, both became incredibly gifted artists in a short period of time. The lesson? That we all have the potential for tremendous creative talent. It’s just that most of us learn to keep that part of ourselves repressed by the time we’re adults. We’re so afraid of doing something wrong that we lock our creative side away.
Pablo Picasso had it right: “Every child is born an artist. The real trick in life is to remain an artist.”
What creativity would you release if you had no fear of failure? What could you accomplish if you “let it all hang out”?
Steve Johnsen is a marketing strategist, a business coach, and the Founder of Cloud Mountain Marketing. He is also the author of the Amazon #1 best-seller, 5 Easy Steps to Make Your Website Your #1 Employee.